Hawai’i Honeymoon

What can you expect on a Hawaiian Honeymoon? We helped Viki and Mike plan a whirlwind 3 island honeymoon to Hawai’i in May — and it was a dream come true! We balanced adventure and relaxation, with luxury, local guides, and plenty of free time. They had a truly incredible Hawaiian honeymoon and were more than happy to share their experience, so you can start visualizing your won romantic island adventure.


Traveling Overall

We had an amazing time on our Honeymoon to Hawai’i. It was a dream vacation for us both! Traveling for us went smoothly. There were no Covid restrictions, all our flights were on time, the car companies were efficient, and the check-in process at the hotels was quick. Considering we traveled to 3 islands and had 5 flights, I was pleasantly surprised by how well traveling went for us. We also had the best weather and were happy we chose May to visit Hawai’i! We also loved all the honeymoon perks our hotels offered, and the restaurants helped celebrate our honeymoon with complimentary dessert!

One of the best things we did was download the Gypsy App. We purchased the Hawai’i Bundle and it was well worth it. It was perfect Oahu and Road to Hana in Maui. We loved how we could start anywhere on the island, and go in any direction, and found the guide tips super helpful. It felt like without the app, we would’ve missed out on seeing some of our favorite spots!

I also want to note, that Hawai’i has implemented reservations for some popular tourist attractions and parks. For us, we did not want our trip planned out every day. We only made reservations for Diamond Head State Monument. We had no issue getting our desired date and time.

The USS Arizona Memorial encourages purchasing tickets in advance. We did not and did wait in a 2-hour standby line. Thankfully the weather cooperated and we didn’t have any other planned activities for the day.  

Here are more details by island to share : 

Oahu

The Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head worked well for our stay, mainly because we spent most of our time exploring the island. The hotel wasn’t anything fancy, but it was clean and the room was nice.

a woman standing on the resort balcony on her Hawaii Honeymoon

They did accommodate our partial ocean & Diamond head view request. However, most of our ocean view was of the next door’s hotel parking lot. I wish we asked for a high-rise level floor. The hotel wasn’t beachfront, but it was a minute walk to a very nice and quiet beach.

Our favorite restaurants we ate in Oahu were : 

  • Michel’s at Colony Surf – perfect for a fancy oceanfront dinner and next to our hotel
  • Sweet E’s Cafe – is a great local brunch spot located in Honolulu. It was a short 10-minute drive from our hotel. Both Mike & I loved their pancakes!
Hawaii Honeymoon couple in Oahu with helmet on surrounded by green mountains

A few highlights from our time in Oahu included

  • 2 Hour ATV Tour at Kualoa Ranch – such a thrill & we loved seeing so many Hollywood movie site locations
  • Hiking Diamond Head
  • Oahu’s Beaches & Volcanoes Loop (South-East corner)
  • North Shore Loop
  • Visited Pearl Harbor & USS Arizona Memorial

Kauai 

The Sheraton Kauai Resort was our favorite hotel! The resort really went the extra mile by upgrading us for free to the “Hibiscus Suite”. The suite was a newly renovated top floor oceanfront & pool front suite. We had 3 balconies, a dining room, living room, master bedroom, and bathroom. They also offered us a complimentary bottle of champagne. We plan to request this specific suite on a future anniversary trip! We did not want to leave!

The Sheraton Kuai resort in Hawaii with glowing pool

After our busy agenda in Oahu, we spent some much-needed R&R in Kauai. We loved the ocean views from Poipu Beach and the on-site amenities the Sheraton offered. On the last day, we treated ourselves to one of the beachside cabanas. We also spent much of our time at the resort’s restaurant, Lava’s. The staff was super friendly and had yummy poolside cocktails!

Our Doors Off Private Helicopter Tour with Mauna Loa Helicopters in Kauai was our favorite adventure! We flew over the coast of Kauai including the beautiful Na Pali! Our tour guide was so knowledgeable and he made us feel comfortable. This was an experience of a lifetime!

the view of Hawaiian islands from a helicopter

We also did the 8 Line Poipu Zipline Adventure with Skyline Eco Adventures in Kauai. We enjoyed seeing the different parts of Kauai and zipping around the island. However, we do wish we saw more tropical forests and that the lines were longer. This was our 3rd time ziplining together so for us I think next time we’d prefer a challenging course and more views! On the plus side, we did like that it was a small tour and our tour guides were awesome!

Our favorite restaurants in Kauai were all within a 5 to 10-minute drive of our resort :  

  • The Beach House Restaurant – a nice beachfront restaurant where we could watch the surfers. Probably my favorite restaurant in Hawai’i. 
  • Keoki’s Paradise – an open-air restaurant with a laid-back Hawaiian vibe.
  • Living Foods – located in the cutest outdoor shopping mall, The Shops At Kukuiula.  

Maui 

The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa was a tropical paradise! The staff made us feel welcome with a bottle of champagne and a lei greeting upon check-in. Our hotel room was very nice and we had a gorgeous view of one of the many resort pools. It was also convenient having so many restaurants on site. I loved the poke & fish tacos they offered! The sunsets on the beach were also breathtaking being on the West Side of the island. The amenities at the resort were endless, and we saw many honeymooners like ourselves. 

We had a great time at the Drums of The Pacific Luau at our hotel! Our seats were close to the stage, and the venue seemed pretty booked. I’m glad we purchased our tickets far in advance. The food servings were large and we enjoyed the open bar as well as the entertainment. 

a honeymoon couple in front of dried lava flow in Hawaii

We’re also happy to report we survived the Road To Hana in Maui! We did the Original Route with 620 Curves and 59 One Way Bridges. It took us about 12 hours to fully complete by following the Gypsy Guide. We saw so many tropical rainforests, waterfalls, and beaches!

On our last day, we did the Lanai Snorkel Tour & Dolphin Watch With Pac-Whale Eco Adventures. It wasn’t the best snorkeling day at Lanai sadly. During the 5 hours, we didn’t see any dolphins and not a large variety of fish. The boat ride was long and we would have preferred a smaller group tour. We originally booked the small group Honolua Bay trip, but they canceled that specific tour the day prior. Next visit to Maui I’d love to snorkel Molokini Crater!

a couple in Hawaii on their honeymoon with green lawns and sunset in the background

On one of our last nights in Maui, we treated ourselves to a nice dinner at The Plantation House in Lahaina. The restaurant offers breathtaking views of the Kapalua Golf Course and the ocean. We were lucky to be at the restaurant during sunset. I enjoyed the Catch of The Day and Mike said his Filet was the best meal he had on our whole trip. 

Conclusions

Overall, if we had to choose our favorite island it would be Kauai and then Maui! We still loved Oahu, but Honolulu was very crowded being a city. Traveling to 3 islands was an adventure and we saw a lot with not a ton of relaxation so we’re glad traveling was seamless. Next time, we’d choose just 1 or 2 islands so we can see more but have plenty of time to relax on the beach. 

We’re so happy we delayed our trip by 2 years. No covid restrictions allowed us to be free of testing, and minimize wait times to fully enjoy our time.

We thank you Ann, and your team for all your time and dedication to helping us plan our dream Hawaiian Honeymoon! We look forward to planning a future trip together!

-Vicki & Mike

12 Little Travel Splurges That Are Totally Worth It

12 Little Luxury Travel Splurges that are totally worth it pin
Pin it for Later!

Given the chance, we’d all love to travel in luxury, with the most comfortable, memorable, and unique experiences possible. But many of us struggle to strike the balance between luxury travel and reasonable spending. We don’t all have a never-ending budget to indulge in every luxury available. So how do you decide which luxury travel splurges are worth it? Consider if it will save you time, make you more comfortable, or improve your experience. Here’s our list of top travel splurges that we think are worth every penny:

Splurges to Increase Your Comfort

1. Airport lounges– If you have a long layover, buy a day pass for the airport lounge. Enjoy some comfy chairs, free food, and drinks, and wait in a relaxed style. Alternatively, for an even lengthier layover, book an airport hotel to grab a couple of hours of sleep and a shower. If you happen to be spending one of your valuable vacation days in the airport, it’s worth treating it like part of the fun. Plus, indulging in some pampering at the airport will start your trip with a sense of relaxation and comfort.

2. Business Class – For those long flights, try upgrading to Business Class. More leg-room and seat space will ensure you catch some sleep and land in your new destination with a spring in your step. Plus, you’ll enjoy upgraded meals, drinks, and amenities while you’re on board.

Pro-Tip: If you’d rather book just one leg in Business Class, make it the overnight flight so you can sleep comfortably. ( Usually the one to Europe or home from Hawaii)

a beautiful balcony overlooking the sea
Photo Credit: Andrea & Eric via Shared Adventures – read about their epic adventure to Greece & London here!
king corner hotel room in Block Island Rhode Island set in blue tones with two windows
Photo Credit: Annie via Shared Adventures – read about here mini-adventure to Block Island, RI here!

3. A Room with a view- If you’re staying more than a few days in one location, your hotel room becomes a big part of your vacation! On a cruise ship with a small cabin, at a beautiful beach resort, or in the heart of the city, a stunning view — or maybe even a private balcony or terrace — is worth the splurge. After a long day of exploring, you’ll return each night to a lovely space where you can enjoy a glass of wine and toast to your adventure.

Pro-Tip: If the bigger room is just a bit too much for the entire trip, split your stay between two hotels. Start in the more budget hotel, then end your trip in luxury with a more expensive suite. 

4. Book the hotel a day early – Is your plane landing in the wee hours of the morning? Most hotels have late-afternoon check-in times, and it’s no fun to have to kill the day waiting to get into a room. However, if you want to go straight to your hotel room for a shower, a soft pillow, and a fresh change of clothes, book your hotel starting the night prior so you can get right in. No need to wait around!

Splurges to Save You Time

Time is your most valuable commodity on vacation! Anything that lets you spend more time enjoying your adventure, experiencing the destination, or relaxing on the beach is worth the extra expense.

5. TSA precheck – Not stressing about waiting in line at the airport can save you so much time and energy. You won’t need to worry if you’ll make it to the plane in time. Or spend the first part of your adventure waiting in a long line. For smooth, easy, and fast comfort, consider one of the many ways to fast-track airport security.

6. Airport to Hotel Transfer – When you finally arrive at your destination, you’re often a bit tired, disoriented, and ready for a shower. Navigating public transportation in this state is no way to start your journey, certainly. Splurging on a private transfer is well worth it. Walk into the Arrivals Hall, look for the driver holding a sign with your name on it, and off you go. Confident secure, and at ease.

Photo Credit: Maxime Steckle via Unsplash
Photo Credit: Mia & Matt via Shared Adventures – read about their Italian honeymoon with a fabulous private tour guide here!

7. Skip-the-line passes – What if you are finally in Paris for your big Parisian adventure and so excited to see it all, but you only have a few days? Spending hours outside the Louvre, just waiting to get inside is not ideal, for instance. Getting a skip-the-line pass for major sites maximizes your efficiency. And leaves you more time to explore the rest of the city!

8. Private Driver –Splurging on a private driver for the day will save you time and enhance your experience. There’s no better intro to a destination than having a knowledgeable local take you to all the best places. Especially if you’re visiting several towns close together, like the Amalfi Coast. Sure, you could probably navigate the multiple trains and busses, but having someone to take you to each spot is well worth the cost.

Travel Splurges to Enhance Your Experience

9. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences – Unique experiences that you can’t have anywhere else are expensive for a reason. You’re not going to have another chance to do them. So take that helicopter ride over Hawaii or dine inside a volcano in Iceland. It will be a memory that you keep forever, the highlight of your trip, what you always tell people about, and what you’ll never regret doing.

10. Professional photos – This is one of those great travel splurges if you are traveling with a group or on your honeymoon! Having a professional follow you around for an hour or an afternoon will give you travel photos like you never knew you could have. Almost certainly, they’ll end up being your favorite vacation photos. And if you’re in a group, it means having everyone in the pictures. Instead of always missing one person or having a poorly taken every-one-is-blinking photo by passing strangers, consider this splurge.

Photo Credit: Matteo Innocenti Photography via Shared Adventures – read about Ann’s luxury trip to Tuscany, Italy here!
hawaii jack harter doorless helicopter ride
Photo Credit: Molly & Matt via Shared Adventures – read about their Hawaiian honeymoon here!

11. Small group tours – The best thing about using a tour guide is getting context for your surroundings. Even if you have a guidebook, a knowledgeable local guide offers something more. There is often a history, some little details, or folk-lore stories that only a local guide can tell you. But it can be hard to hear that story amid a big tour group. And, feeling like cattle as you are shepherded from one spot to another adds more negatives than positives to the adventure. Having a small or private group not only saves time (no waiting for stragglers), but it also allows you to ask questions and get individual attention. It gives you the sense of a friend showing you their hometown.

12. Amazing meals– Food is an important and unique part of every culture. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “foodie”, enjoying a good meal will make you smile. Learn about the culture through the food and bring home a taste memory to talk about for years.

Pro Tip: If you are in love with a specific high-end restaurant, but not the price tag, make a reservation for lunch instead of dinner


Are you ready to add a touch of luxury to your next adventure? Let us know! We’re always excited to help you decide which extra details and travel splurges will lift your adventure to the next level!

A slice of Paradise

Meagan and Cameron were looking for a unique honeymoon experience. Something they would remember forever, outdoorsy, and intimate. I knew the perfect slice of paradise for them: Moorea. A French Polynesian Island with stunning jungles and world-class snorkeling. Being able to swim with turtles from the balcony of their overwater bungalow at Manava Beach Resort all week was just the start of their unforgettable adventure in paradise!

Here’s their trip report:

HI Ann! I know you said I could keep it short, but there is SO much to say lol. Thank you for everything 🙂 🙂 we absolutely LOVED our trip!! Moorea is the definition of Paradise! The lush vegetation and the crystal clear lagoon had me staring at the views in awe every single day.

a view of the Moorea mountains from the sea

I must have said a million times that the views just do not get old! We knew that it was their rainy season with rain expected daily, which we didn’t care at all, you are still in paradise. We learned that the mornings are the best for activities with sunshine and the rains come later in the afternoon/overnight.

sunrise off the deck of an over water bungalow in Moorea

We were up at sunrise daily and took advantage of the deck off of the bungalow to get a morning snorkel in.


We saw and swam with the same couple of turtles and sharks right off our bungalow each morning! We brought our own underwater cameras for all of the wildlife and kayaked out into the lagoon to see everything around us.

A beautifully colored fish underwater in Moorea Tahiti

There were two Polynesian themed nights as well with a buffet dinner (oops we really wanted to explore the area and check out local restaurants and skipped this). The food is amazing! Expensive like we heard, but SO good and they give you large portions.

happy couple on a chartered boat

Cameron surprised me with a chartered boat from Moorea Ocean Adventures and I can happily say he made one of my lifelong bucket list dreams come true!

We swam with dolphins in the wild, along with sharks, rays, turtles and a TON of other fish. They were INCREDIBLE. It’s a private charter and they send you a captain and a marine biologist. They bring snorkel gear, beverages, and take a video of the entire experience–in the boat and underwater.
They edit the video for you too, we got it back a week later and I can honestly say it was better than some of the wedding videos I have seen!! It was more exciting to receive too lol.
They are so incredibly knowledgeable about the area, and the species, and you can tell they take pride in their work. They asked us our main goals and expectations for the day before we took off and were SO eager to find dolphins with us.
You could tell they loved and appreciated the sea and its creatures! I couldn’t say enough positive things about our experience with that company, even the communication Cameron had before and after with them. 5 stars for sure!

Palms, beach, and over water bungalows honeymoon paradise in Moorea

Biggest suggestions for people considering Moorea:
-If you go during the rainy season (November-February) be sure to be active morning people-the resort had umbrellas for everyone throughout the stay and we could walk to town so that was great!
– Rent a car and drive the island–it takes 90 minutes, there is one road around it, and the speed limit is either 60km or 35km if you are driving through a town or school zone.

The winding road through lush jungle in moorea


-There really is no nightlife so don’t expect any nightclubs, bars, or anything like that, besides what the resorts offer in their lounges and bars.

success at Moorea waterfall

Find the waterfall and hike to it!

– Directions [for the waterfall] are in various reviews on trip advisor, don’t listen to the reviews that say its an easy 20 min walk. It’s a decent hike
-Gratuity really isn’t part of their culture, you are told it’s not expected but can be provided for exemplary service. You find a line to leave it on the checks at the resorts, which we did of course, but at the local restaurants you just pay your bill at a counter and that’s it. We were uncomfortable with this at first and didn’t know what to do, but when one of our shuttle drivers taught us local lingo, told us the history about the various sites we were driving by, stopped at certain spot “that we had to see and take a photo at” and just made us feel SO welcomed, you knew that was someone you gave a gratuity to. We had a bunch of shuttle drivers throughout our transit between Tahiti and Moorea, you could tell this guy (Maui was his name!)was really proud of his island and happy to have us there.

happy couple overlooking the over water bungalows in Moorea


Rudy’s!! Eat there!  It will not disappoint!! Read the reviews and believe every single one you read about the parrotfish.  I read them afterward and was so glad we happened to find it.  We were supposed to go back a second night, but my nap took a little longer than I had expected ;(   
-Food and drinks are expensive on and off the resorts – but omg sooo good 
Belvedere lookout – go here!  People leave locks on the fence, but you can tell they get removed.  We saw a BUNCH in a photo before we went and there were only a few there when we arrived. 

the ocean view from an bungalow balcony

– 1 week is the perfect amount of time to see everything on the island, we saw some things twice!  We even rented a car twice and made it to other restaurants and locations.  I understand why many people spend more time and island-hop between Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora – but that sounds exhausting to us and we decided to spend our 10 year anniversary in Bora Bora instead to check it out 😉 
– Get a black Tahitian pearl 😊 we have a few now! 

WELL, I think that covers it…

enjoying the ocean view from over water balcony

can we go back now, please?!?! 

Thank you SO much for everything, can’t wait to plan the next one! 
Meagan and Cameron 

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)